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Readers’ choice: The 4 best sounding engines
In last week’s Hagerty Forum Question of the Week, we asked what is the best sounding engine? The responses were wide, but a few revved just a bit louder than others. Here are the four best sounding engines, according to you.
When Mazda set it sights on winning Le Mans in the early 1990s, it knew it was going to take something special to get to the top of the podium. That something special is the R26B. A four-rotor inline design was upgraded with a racing-specific kit. The telescopic intake manifold system was tuned such that, depending on RPM, the intake runner would self-adjust for peak power. Displacing just 2616cc (159 cubic inches), the R26B could reach peak power of 630 horsepower in Le Mans trim. With a redline of more than 10,000 rpm, this engine makes a truly unique sound when at full song.
Only a few mentions of Formula One made it into the over 60 comments, but most of them centered around the Matra V-12 engine. The 60-degree aluminum-block 12-cylinder engine was designed by Georges Martin. Displacing just 3.0 liters, the engine was designed with the goal of an all-French machine winning the Formula One world championship and 24 hours of Le Mans back to back, thus necessitating a displacement fitting the F1 rulebook. Only built for four years, it still holds a spot in engine enthusiast’s ears.
Trailing the introduction of the small-block by three years, the big-block Chevrolet hit the market with 348 cubic inches of ground-pounding displacement. In 1961, it was bumped to 409 cubes, prompting a love affair that reached mainstream America in earnest. The big-displacement, low-stress engines have a guttural rumble to them, especially with aftermarket exhaust and a more aggressive camshaft. Although some commenters chose the stock bumpstick for sound, others desire the radical lope of high-overlap and lift.
Ford flathead V-8
Certainly a unique sound, the Flathead V-8 valvetrain architecture means there will likely be no modern engine that will ever replicate that note. Its introduction in 1932 was the first real compact power package and won a legion of fans, spanning from hot rodders to outlaws, almost immediately. Ranging in size from 136 to 337 cubic inches, the power numbers ran just as wide, with the smaller engines rated at 60 horsepower and the larger truck applications making 154 hp. Combine the low compression with a simple exhaust featuring glasspack mufflers and you have a timeless head turning sound. Skip ahead to the 5:20 mark in the video above to hear our Flathead fire up.